Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
None of the engines feel underpowered, but there’s no doubt that the diesels feel more flexible when pulling from low revs up steep hills – especially with all seven-seats occupied and a boot full of luggage on board. Our pick of the range is the 148bhp 2.0 TDI SCR 150, because it has the ideal balance of pulling power when you need it and straight-line performance. It’s also reasonably hushed during day-to-day driving.
The more powerful version has 175bhp and is badged up as the 2.0 TDI SCR 177. It is quicker flat out but doesn’t offer much of a bonus in terms of in-gear flexibility over the cheaper option. And it’s coarser, so there’s more noise around town and added vibrations through the controls and driver’s seat, but it does quieten down on the motorway.
For the smoothest engine in the range go for the 148bhp 1.4 TSI 150 petrol. No matter how hard it’s worked it’s smoother and quieter, but you do have to accept the need to rev it out more. It lacks the diesels’ low-end surge you see, but anyone desperate to avoid a diesel should find it’s pace adequate.
The manual gearbox is light and comes with a positive clutch that assists you to drive smoothly, and the six-speed dual-clutch automatic – standard with the 2.0 TDI 177 and available as an option on the two other engines – changes gears smoothly and quickly. It’s jerkier at parking speed than the automatic gearbox you get in the Citroen Berlingo.
The Berlingo – and all the van-based MPVs for that matter – aren’t as agile in corners as the Sharan. It has plenty of grip and decent body control, although the steering isn’t as precise or as quick-witted as the relatively agile Ford Galaxy’s or the smaller, nimbler Volkswagen Touran’s.
Ride comfort is pretty decent, but again, not quite as absorbent as the Galaxy’s. The Berlingo is also softer but you do get a bit more side-to-side sway in that and its Rifter and Combo Life siblings.
DCC adaptive chassis control is also available as an option on the Sharan, which improves the ride comfort and allows you to soften or stiffen the suspension on demand. However, it’s too expensive for what it achieves and is certainly not a necessity.
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